TAMPA — Seven months after leaving South Bend with a surprising victory, USF coach Skip Holtz picked up another huge win against alma mater Notre Dame as the Bulls announced Monday that Aaron Lynch, a promising defensive end who earned Freshman All-American honors for the Irish last fall, is transferring to USF this summer.
Lynch, 6 feet 6 and 270 pounds, was rated as the No. 10 overall recruit in the nation last year, given the prestigious five-star rating by Scout.com, and he didn't disappoint in South Bend, leading the Fighting Irish with 5.5 sacks as a true freshman. But a desire to move close to his family and fiancee in Cape Coral has him joining the Bulls, though he'll likely sit out the 2012 season as required by NCAA rules.
"I'm ecstatic, really excited for a player with his talent level," Holtz said Monday after Lynch made an official campus visit this weekend, taking in the Bulls' spring game on Saturday night. "What really impressed me was having the opportunity to be around him this weekend. He's doing really well in school, and he's a great young man. He's got his head on straight, and I've got great respect for where he is right now."
USF was the first school to offer Lynch a scholarship, with assistant Carl Franks noticing him as an underclassman as part of Jim Leavitt's staff, and Island Coast High coach Joe Bowen bringing Lynch and his mother, Alice, to USF to see the campus. Before long, the nation's elite programs were offering scholarships, and when Holtz arrived in 2010, defensive coordinator Mark Snyder also built a relationship with Lynch, who committed to Notre Dame then Florida State before ultimately signing with the Fighting Irish.
Holtz said Lynch made it clear in the past week that USF was where he wanted to be, citing the proximity to home and having liked USF during the initial recruiting process.
"When he came here on his visit, it probably confirmed some things for him, being around our players, to see the morale and the attitude of those guys, the way everybody got along," Holtz said. "The recruiting process the first time around, although it wasn't strong enough to say that's where he's going to go to school, it was strong enough to say, 'I really could be happy there.' "
Lynch will have three years of eligibility with the Bulls starting in 2013, though he is seen as a potential early entry candidate for the NFL draft down the road. USF will apply for a hardship waiver that, if granted, would allow him to play immediately this fall without sitting out the year as normally required.